The Future of MPLS?

Explanation of MPLS and its importance in networking

We wrote a detailed blog about MPLS and how it works, check it out if you want to learn more.

Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a technology used to efficiently route data across a network. It is often used by large enterprises and service providers to ensure high-speed, reliable communication between different sites and devices. MPLS works by adding a label to each data packet, which allows routers to quickly identify the correct path to take through the network. When using MPLS, no IP routing is required, the forwarding is based on the labels which were added to the packets.

The main benefit of MPLS is that it enables companies to create virtual private networks (VPNs) which provides a way to have multiple security Zones over the same physical network.

The Current State of MPLS

The Current State of MPLS

Is MPLS still used?

If you are asking yourself if MPLS is still a technology that is in use today, this can be answered with a clear Yes!

Learn more about why this is, in the following chapter.

MPLS is still widely used by many enterprises and service providers, despite the rise of new networking technologies such as software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). This is because MPLS has some unique advantages that make it well-suited for certain types of networks and applications. These networks consist of large investments and aren’t changed quickly to some new technologies.

For example, MPLS can provide a high level of reliability and security, with guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that can ensure that critical applications receive the bandwidth and performance they need. MPLS can also be used to create private, secure networks that can isolate traffic and protect sensitive data. While SD-WAN offers some benefits over MPLS, such as increased agility, flexibility, and cost savings, MPLS is still a reliable and widely-used technology for many organizations.

MPLS market size and growth

The MPLS market has been growing steadily over the years, with a projected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.5% from 2021 to 2026. In 2020, the global MPLS market was valued at $13.9 billion, and it is expected to reach $18.7 billion by 2026. The growth in the MPLS market can be attributed to several factors, including the increasing demand for high-speed, reliable connectivity, the rise of cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, and the need for secure and private networking solutions. While new technologies such as SD-WAN are gaining popularity, MPLS remains a key technology for many large enterprises and service providers and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.

MPLS benefits for business

MPLS offers several benefits for businesses that rely on network connectivity for their operations. One of the main benefits of MPLS is its ability to provide reliable and predictable network performance, with guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that can ensure critical applications receive the bandwidth and performance they need. This can help businesses maintain productivity and avoid costly downtime.

MPLS also enables businesses to create private, secure networks that can isolate traffic and protect sensitive data, which is particularly important for industries such as finance, healthcare, and government. Additionally, MPLS can provide a more cost-effective networking solution for businesses with multiple locations, by enabling them to use a single connection to communicate between sites, rather than relying on expensive dedicated connections. Overall, MPLS can provide businesses with a high-performance, secure, and cost-effective networking solution that can support their operations and help them stay competitive.

SD-WAN vs MPLS: differences and similarities

SD-WAN and MPLS are both technologies used for wide-area networking, but they have some key differences. MPLS is a circuit-switched technology that uses labels to forward packets between routers in a network, while SD-WAN is a software-based technology that uses virtualized networking functions to connect sites and manage traffic.

MPLS adds a Label (Layer 2.5) before the Layer 3 Header (IP), SD-WAN uses normally another Layer 3+4 Header.

One of the main differences between SD-WAN and MPLS is their approach to network connectivity. MPLS uses dedicated connections between sites, while SD-WAN can use a mix of connections, including broadband, cellular, and satellite, to connect sites. This makes SD-WAN more flexible and cost-effective than MPLS, as it can use cheaper and more widely available connections to connect sites.

Another difference between SD-WAN and MPLS is their approach to network management. MPLS requires specialized expertise to manage and configure, while SD-WAN can be managed through a simple web interface. SD-WAN also offers more granular control over network traffic, allowing businesses to prioritize and manage traffic based on application or user needs.

Despite their differences, SD-WAN and MPLS have some similarities. Both technologies can provide reliable and secure networking solutions, with guaranteed QoS and SLAs to ensure critical applications receive the bandwidth and performance they need. Both technologies can also be used to create private, secure networks that can isolate traffic and protect sensitive data.

In conclusion, while MPLS and SD-WAN have some differences in their approach to network connectivity and management, they both offer reliable and secure networking solutions that can meet the needs of businesses of all sizes. Ultimately, the choice between SD-WAN and MPLS will depend on the specific needs and budget of the business, as well as the type of applications and services that are being used.

The Future of MPLS

Is MPLS dead?

Returning to our original question, it can be reaffirmed that MPLS is still a widely used technology. Many enterprises continue to implement MPLS not only for their WAN, but also for their Core Network in order to achieve secure segmentation of different security zones.

MPLS replacement options

SD-WAN and SD-Access are technologies that can potentially replace MPLS in both the WAN and the Core. However, the decision to migrate from MPLS to SD-WAN or SD-Access should be based on the specific requirements and circumstances of the organization. While MPLS provides predictable performance and secure connectivity, it can be more expensive than SD-WAN or SD-Access.

SD-WAN and SD-Access offer several benefits over MPLS. They are typically less expensive and more flexible, making it easier to scale the network and adapt to changing business needs. SD-WAN in particular allows for intelligent path selection and load balancing, enabling optimal use of available bandwidth from multiple sources including broadband internet.

However, there are also potential drawbacks to consider when evaluating these alternatives. For example, SD-WAN and SD-Access may not offer the same level of security and QoS as MPLS, especially when relying on public internet connections. Additionally, the deployment and management of these technologies may require more expertise and resources than MPLS.

Ultimately, the decision to replace MPLS with SD-WAN or SD-Access should be based on a careful evaluation of the organization’s unique requirements, including performance, cost, security, and scalability.

The role of segment routing in the future of MPLS

Segment routing is a technology that has gained traction in recent years as a potential game-changer in the future of MPLS. It provides an innovative approach to traffic engineering, where traffic is steered through the network based on pre-defined paths or segments.

One of the main advantages of segment routing is its ability to simplify network operations and reduce the need for complex protocols such as LDP and RSVP-TE. By leveraging the existing MPLS infrastructure, segment routing allows for more efficient use of network resources and greater scalability.

Another key benefit of segment routing is its flexibility. Enterprises can define custom paths through the network based on their specific requirements, allowing for greater control over traffic flows and QoS. Additionally, segment routing can be easily integrated with other network technologies, such as SD-WAN and NFV, further enhancing network agility and automation.

Looking to the future, segment routing is expected to play a critical role in the evolution of MPLS. As network architectures become more complex and the demand for advanced services and applications continues to grow, segment routing offers a scalable, efficient, and flexible solution for traffic engineering in the MPLS-based networks.


In conclusion, despite the emergence of new networking technologies, MPLS remains a key component of modern enterprise networks and will continue to be widely used in the future. Its proven ability to provide secure, reliable, and efficient connectivity for business-critical applications has made it a trusted choice for many organizations.

While newer technologies such as SD-WAN and segment routing offer alternatives to MPLS, they are not necessarily replacements, but rather complementary solutions that can enhance the capabilities of MPLS-based networks. It ultimately depends on the specific needs and requirements of the organization.

In addition, the market size and growth of MPLS further reinforce its relevance in the networking industry. According to recent reports, the global MPLS market is expected to continue growing at a significant pace, driven by the need for efficient and secure connectivity in the age of digital transformation.

Overall, MPLS will remain a valuable networking technology for years to come, providing enterprises with the reliable and secure connectivity they need to succeed in today’s digital landscape.





One response to “The Future of MPLS?”

  1. […] Looking to the future, it is clear that MPLS will continue to play a significant role in the networking industry. While newer technologies like SD-WAN and segment routing are gaining traction, MPLS still offers unique advantages for certain use cases. As such, we expect to see continued investment and innovation in MPLS services and solutions, ensuring that it remains a relevant and valuable networking option for years to come. […]

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